Activities performed individually in a single patient – therapist team.
The program is flexible in order to cater to various types of disorders. It focuses on the cognitive area most affected by the condition.
MEMORY TRAINING (PROCOGNITIVE TRAINING, COGNITIVE FUNCTIONS TRAINING).
A specially designed system of training programs meant to improve memory functions (short term memory, operating memory), concentration, attention and executive functions. Its general purpose is to improve overall intellectual capabilities. Memory training should be carried out by suitably trained personnel (therapist, psychologist, doctor) in therapy groups or individually. It requires prior evaluation of the level of a given memory disorder, in order to attune the program to the patient’s needs. If the activities are too easy, it will not provide the expected results. If they are too challenging, they will have a dispiriting effect on the patient. Due to the need for active cooperation between the patient and the therapist, only those suffering from light and mild forms of cognitive function disorders qualify for this method. Memory training is also beneficial for healthy individuals wanting to strengthen their mental capabilities.
REALITY ORIENTATION TRAINING
This training is based on cyclical, frequent recollection of information regarding the patient and their surroundings. The repeated information should include the patient’s date of birth, age, place of residence, as well as basic information on their relatives (names, age, degree of kinship, etc.). The therapy can be carried out in an informal manner, i.e. at home, with a family member, or in group sessions with a professional therapist.
The therapy is based on referencing the patient’s past experiences, using various stimuli, such as old photographs, life-changing events, familiar objects, movies and recordings from the patient’s youth. In its simplest form, this therapy can be performed individually with a relative, for example – while going through old photo albums. The goal is to reach the best preserved memories and sustain them. When conducted at specialized medical centers, the therapy is carried out by professional therapists with groups of patients. The therapists make sure to avoid unpleasant memories, stimulating the patients’ communicative abilities – both verbal and nonverbal. Furthermore, this therapy has proved to have a beneficial influence on both the patient and his caregiver, as it enforces the identity of the former, while giving the latter a better understanding of the illness.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY is based on performing activities that, in the past, brought satisfaction to the patient. These may involve tinkering, crocheting, knitting, gardening, housework or cooking. The therapy can be performed in groups, although it works best in the patient’s everyday surroundings – at home, where they can take part in simple everyday activities. Many theories stress the importance of this type of therapy, as it fulfills the psychosocial needs of the patient, preserves acquired abilities, while also preventing conduct disorders and providing a sense of “being needed”. The fact that this method is very easy to use is an additional advantage.
This therapy focuses on listening to the patient’s utterances and pointing out which of them carry sense and meaning, while also learning the patient’s feelings, accepting them and realizing their importance. This goal can be achieved by simply conversing with the patient, hearing them out and sparing them some of our time. In the case of patients in advanced stages of illness, this therapy becomes limited to nonverbal contact and simply “being with them” – holding hands, hugging, asserting one’s presence.
A type of psychotherapy, in which the patients express themselves through artistic endeavors. This can be realized through drawing, painting, sculpting, working with modeling clay, coloring, or creating collages. It is often performed in groups, with an attending therapist. It allows the patients, especially those with speech disorders, to express themselves nonverbally, through color, shape and form. It also allows them to make autonomous decisions in regards to the choice of material, color and subject, increasing their sense of independence. The creative act maintains manual capabilities, as well as the spatial constructive praxis. Furthermore, it stimulates creative thinking and encourages social interactions. The aforementioned therapy model is used for patients with light and mild cognitive function disorders. In more advanced stages, it is generally limited to coloring pictures, with the therapist helping in the choice of appropriate colors. Some patients, especially those with advanced movement, attention and concentration disorders, can find it difficult to participate in this form of therapy, which might prove counterproductive. That is why it’s important to provide a specialized therapist to choose the activities suitable to the severity of dementia.
This therapy is based on utilizing music or its elements in order to obtain therapeutic effects. It offers a plethora of therapeutic activities, such as singing, playing musical instruments, rhythm clapping or tapping. All of the above should be adjusted to the level of cognitive function disorder. This therapy can be performed in groups and usually involves playing popular songs from the patients’ youth (or religious songs), joint singing, dancing, or clapping to the rhythm of the track. It can also be performed individually, at home, by a family caregiver. Studies indicate the positive influence of music therapy on the patient’s mood, emotional state, social interactions, as well as its overall calming effect.